BioAscent Burns Night poems – A celebration of Scottish heritage and scientific passion

Published: 08 February 2024

At BioAscent, we started the year with a tribute to one of the world’s greatest poets – Robert Burns, also known as Scotland’s ‘national bard’. 

As it happens, some of our scientists at BioAscent are also budding poets. To celebrate Burns Night, we hosted our own competition, where each of our departments was asked to submit a Scottish-themed poem. Of course, the team relished the opportunity to showcase their poetic prowess and we were surprised with the creativity and wit. 

Although some posts were too brazen to publish(!), we’d like to thank every team for submitting their poem. After careful consideration, we selected our winning poem. 

We asked our winning poet, Susan Fletcher, a Scientist in the Assay Development team within the Biosciences department, to tell us what inspired her to write her poem, a light-hearted take on a (non-typical) day in the lab: 

“I'd had a busy week in the lab and was sitting at home on Thursday evening going through the week in my head thinking about how even when the odds are stacked against us, when timing and planning is critical to an experiment always seems to work out as planned, we all have the same challenges but everyone always helps each other and between us, we always get the job done.

“As I was thinking about that, a reminder popped up on my phone about the competition being run by our Social Committee, and all the challenges we had faced that week sprang to mind and so I grabbed a notepad and wrote them all down and that's what came out.

"I was thinking of a light-hearted take on all of the challenges that we regularly face in the lab that sometimes make it a wonder how we actually get anything done - every lab must face the same challenges but it's how we deal with them that I feel effectively demonstrates that our Biosciences team is indeed made up of exceptional scientists, but also there are some who regularly also have to play the role of engineer, IT fixer-upper and general problem solver/improviser and that's why we all work so well successfully together.

"Of course, the majority of the time everything goes as planned and the machines do exactly what they're supposed to...but that wasn't going to make for a very interesting poem or win us any pizza.”

You can read Susan's winning poem and the other entries below.

Our winning poem: Wee Timorous Beasties 

Wee timorous beasties 

Wae yer cells an’ yer plates 

Workin a’ the hoors a’ the day 

Tae git clients results, whate’er it takes. 


Ye e’er stop tae wonder 

Whit ye’d dae without yer drugs? 

Ye’d likely spend a’ the days 

Relaxin’ wae yer dugs. 


Inhibitor or agonist ye say? 

Mare like agonising… 

Yer incubators gubbed again 

Yer cells are gonnae dee, it’s nae surprisin’ 


Y’er lookin’ doon that microscope 

Jist whit d’ye expect tae see there? 

Hive y’er cells got bugs or fungus? 

Thank God ye kept some spare!! 


Y’er substrate is insoluble 

Y’er enzymes no playin’ ball 

That centrifuge is shafted 

Ach, come on noo, that’s nae all… 


The echos haein’ an eppy 

An y’er biomeks gone mad 

Y’er pipette just ran oot of juice 

It’s finally hame time, aren’t ye glad?!!! 


It’s jist as well y’er made fir this, 

Biologist is y’er name…. 

Blood, sweat, tears an’ too many years 

Dis anyone ken whit thur’ dain? 

Entry two: Ode to Half Past Ten 

My molecule is missing, 

My molecule is gone, 

I've tried to NMR it, 

But the multiplets are wrong. 


Maybe I never saw it, 

It was only in a dream, 

Or its gone down to Nardinis, 

To get a wee ice cream. 


But I'm sure I saw it somewhere, 

maybe by TLC? 

I'll try to stain the plate up... 

My spot just isn’t there. 


It's gone to get some swadgers, 

Irn bru and tattie scone, 

The drouth is coming on me, 

And I don't know where it’s gone. 


I cannot think for hunger, 

Oh good, its half past ten, 

I'll have a cheeky roll and pie 

And then I'll try again

Entry three: Scotland, the Hame of BioAscent 

Braw is oor landscape, oor mighty hame, 

In Summer or Winter, it's cauld a' the same 

Only a bam would surely bide here, 

Alba gu bràth, we have nae fear! 


Scotland is bonnie, fae Stranraer to Thurso 

Centuries of history, fae the Picts tae noo 

Every noo and then, tak time tae explore, 

New paths and adventures within oor shores, 

Taps aff, a'body! 

Entry four 

In braw bricht labs oor minds are reelin’ 

Aboot richt wee molecules with profound meanin’ 

We build n break thum and tread a pernicketie path 

Wur th' dreems o' many have oaften bin dashed 


But we know wir joab, we’re gid at this. 

We learn fresh lessons fae every near miss. 

So we keep oan gaun, despite th' difficulty 

Oan this noble quest o' drug discovery 

Integrated Drug Discovery

Science-led drug discovery

Get in Touch

Let's talk about how we can maximise your drug discovery success.